Gazebo Gazette

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Foundation has received an $80,000 grant from Mississippi Power. The grant will be used to establish the Shine A Light Minority Small Business Grant program and funds will be distributed over a five-year period as part of the program of work of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber Diversity Council.

“These grants will boost economic development in our community and support the small businesses that drive our economy. They’re a true win-win,” Mississippi Power Vice President of External Affairs Billy Thornton said. “We’re proud to partner with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber and their Diversity Council to assist entrepreneurs who’ve taken the leap and opened their own business.”

The grant application process will open on March 23, 2021, with grants awarded up to $1,000 for minority owned small businesses that are Mississippi Power customers and are a member in good standing with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce.  The deadline to apply is May 5, 2021.

“Adding minority small business grants to the Chamber’s program of work is truly an exciting next step in the growth of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber’s Diversity Council,” said Gulf Coast Woman Magazine owner and President of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber Dorothy Wilson.  “As I wrap up my term as President, I am proud of the doors the Chamber has opened with its diversity and inclusion efforts.”

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce currently awards small business grants from 7 divisions including a Women Owned business grant, a Veteran owned business grant, numerous grants for Biloxi, Gulfport, Pass Christian and Long Beach small businesses.  In 2020, a total of $42,975 has been awarded.

Mississippi Power recently was a recipient of the Community Partner Impact Award from the Center for Energy Workforce Development for its innovative and ongoing efforts to build a diverse workforce. The company, in partnership with the Southern Company Charitable Foundation, announced last month the awarding of $825,000 in technology grants to four historically black colleges and universities in Mississippi – Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Rust College and Tougaloo College.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber’s Diversity Council was formed in 2010 as part of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce. The mission is to connect, inform, and develop diverse businesses while advocating for their success through innovative programming curated by the council while increasing membership by communicating chamber benefits to minority owned businesses.

The Council’s activities include a Breakfast of Business Champions that highlighted successful minority business owners and their best practices, and the presentation of a three-part virtual series sponsored by Mississippi Power titled Transforming Your Organization’s Culture: Building Blocks of a Belonging Workplace with over 365 hours of training delivered to the community.